Last January, during the Sleuths’ Ink JANO writing event, I finished my first-ever paranormal romance novel. I’d started two others through the years. My one and only attempt at a literary, book-club style book made it to approximately 3,000 words. The second attempt, a paranormal vampire romance, made it to 33,832 words and stalled. I gave it to a friend to read, and the most helpful comment she returned was, “What makes this different?”
The honest answer was nothing. Her comment, however, is the “how” and “why” I came up with something different to write about: reapers. I considered zombies since they are all the rage right now, but let’s face it; there is never going to be a sexy zombie. The whole dangly, rotting flesh thing is only attractive to other zombies, and I suspect even they have their limits. That leaves zombie hunters to write about, and while I’m not completely discounting the possibility of zombies in my future, for now it’s me and the reapers.
I’ve had several beta readers (not nearly enough) and my last beta reader pointed out my overuse of the word just. I did a search on my current work-in-progress and found 143 instances of the word just. I had 332 instances in Reap ‘Em & Weep. I whittled it down to 175. Still too many, but a girl can only take so much.
In my WIP, at least a dozen of those uses were justified since they were part of a completely different word…like justified. But the others? Mostly expendable. I say “mostly” because I left 42 of the original 143. A dozen were inside of legitimate words. And the rest? They just felt right. An editor/publisher who is paying me one day may think otherwise, in which case I will happily murder those darlings.
Another biggie I struggle with is that. As far as I can tell and read, that is a mostly unnecessary word. All of you seasoned writers already know this. It’s newbies like me that are only now figuring this out. See, I used it again. Probably should have used who instead. I have 314 instances of that in my WIP. I can’t even go there yet. It’s too painful.
Then there is as. As is the crack filler in three-fourths of my sentences. It’s the expandable foam which holds things together and fills my transitional holes. It’s also pretty ugly and bright yellow and impossible to ignore once someone has pointed it out to you. Number of instances in my 45,000 word WIP? Sixteen hundred and eighty-one. Eek!
I think I’m going to need more words to replace those crutches. Maybe that’s the secret to good writing? Finding your weaknesses and overcoming them? I’m pretty sure my writing will improve ten-fold if I can tame those three beasts.
I’m gonna need a sharper knife.